Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom blocks New York Jets defensive lineman Kyle Phillips on a touchdown run by Ito Smith. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Analyst says Lindstrom needs to correct pass protection mistakes

Paul Alexander says rookie is an ‘excellent technical player and very aware, very consistent guy’

He’s watched Falcons rookie guard Chris Lindstrom and was not been impressed with his pass protection. Alexander, who coached the Jets (1992-93, tight ends), Bengals (1994-2017, offensive line) and Cowboys (2018 offensive line), was on Monday with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan.  

“Chris Lindstrom, he was the second guy taken, No.14,” Alexander said after discussing Jonah Williams. “He looks stout. He looks aware. He’s the kid from Boston College. He’s playing right guard. He looks like he’s got a good stance. He’s going to be a good player.”

After the niceties, Alexander got to the point. 

“His problem was pass protection and he’s got to fix it,” Alexander said. “I counted five pressures in the 73 plays, which is about a normal amount in a game. I’ve had rookies like that (who) turned out to be great players, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying in this case, that’s a problem. But at some point, you get him in the room and say, ‘buddy, if you have five pressures in a game, we might not win that game just because of that.’ One guy can’t give up five pressures in a football game.”

Alexander is also an author, speaker and musician, who coach 15 Pro Bowl players and alternates over his 26 years in the NFL. He’s now a media consultant.

Miller asked: “Is it technique, not knowing his assignment? What do you credit the pressures to in terms of Chris Lindstrom?

“I think he’s going to settle down a little bit because I studied him in college and I thought he was an excellent technical player and very aware, very consistent guy,” Alexander said. “I loved him and all of that. But I saw a little bit of ‘Nervous Nellie’ because two of the pressures he took a bad set for guys. Two of them, he was on the wrong level. He was up when he should have been back. One he didn’t see the linebacker run through ... I’m sure he’s thinking I’ve been playing football a long time. They do this and all of sudden they just play. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for him. I didn’t see anything that wasn’t correctable.”

Kirwan asked: “Is it typical for him, a guy in his situation (where) expectations are high, that they play high?” 

“In his case, it has more to do with the angle he’s taking for the guys,” Alexander said. “You know, I kind of have a triangle theory. At the top for linemen is ‘Who do I block?’ That’s at the top. These guys aren’t exactly sure who they block. Then after that it’s ‘How do I block them?’ Then, the last part is ‘How well do I block them?’ 

“He’s not in that part of the triangle where it’s how well do I block them. He’s probably, like all rookies, right up there in the who do I block and how do I block kind of thin, which makes you a little tentative. It takes one step to miss a block. It doesn’t take much. One little error in your technique and you’ll miss a block.”

Kirwan asked: “Do you find that they are shocked by the defensive strength of the tackles?”

“I think they are,” Alexander said. “The speed and the strength more than anything, the thing that amazes me is that if you make an error ... as a blocker in the National Football League, the good rushers will beat you. They’ll beat you. They are not going to miss an error. If you’re (fighting) a heavyweight boxer and you drop your hands for a second, you’re knocked out.

“That’s all there is to it. They can get away with it when they are playing against lesser athletes. They can make a little error here or there and cover it up because they are a better athlete. But you make the tiniest error in professional football against elite players and you’re going to lose. You’re going to miss a block.”

Lindstrom, who was selected 14th overall by the Falcons, started training camp with the first-team and appears on the fast track to start the season at right guard. 

He’s played in 42 snaps against the Jets, 18 against the Dolphins and 14 against the Broncos, according to NFL Game Statistics and Information System.

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